I had an awesome time conducting a live interactive reading at the Baltimore County Public Library’s Rosedale Branch. I’d like to thank Sara Jane and the rest of the staff at the Rosedale Branch for inviting me to entertain the children during their Fit and Fun Day. Here are some images from the event:
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend a forum sponsored by the Clinton Foundation, RWJF and GHI. It was an awesome event that included a lively discussion on what is needed to curb the rise in childhood obesity rates. I had the opportunity to meet some remarkable people who are doing very exciting things to ensure that the future of the world is brighter and healthier.
Amongst the many people in attendance I had the pleasure of meeting the Today Show’s Joy Bauer, who complimented me on my smile. Thanks for that, Joy! Sadly, I didn’t think to snap a celfie’ (yes, that is selfie) with her. Visit her site for nutrition tips and great recipes: www.joybauer.com
I met actor and entrepreneur Wendell Pierce of The Wire and Treme fame (my wife would throw in Waiting to Exhale as well). You should definitely support Sterling Farms if you are in the New Orleans area; they are placing healthy options in the heart of the food deserts in the 9th Ward. Visit their site for more info: sterlingfreshfoods.com
I also had the privilege to eat lunch with former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Heart Association, Dr. Eduardo Sanchez. If you ever catch them together ask them about two things: 1) Hurricane Katrina and 2) What is the significance of Ice Cream? Believe me you won’t regret it.
Here are some organizations that caught my attention and I think deserve your support:
Go Noodle is an organization that provide an online program that allow kids classroom breaks to do short exercises as a “reset” from their day to day lessons. I had an awesome conversation with the founder Scott about ways to inspire and encourage children to fulfill healthy goals. Visit their site: GoNoodle.com
Girl Trek is a non-profit organization that uses walking as a way to encourages physical activity amongst African American women. One of the co-founders, Morgan, was a panelist who was very inspiring with her wealth of knowledge and experience. Visit their site: GirlTrek.org
Finally, Snider Hockey is a non-profit by the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. I was fortunate to meet Jan who spoke passionately about the program and how they introduce urban youth in Philadelphia to hockey. Visit their site: esyhf.org
Overall, it was an awesome even and I encourage you to check out the videos below and joint the conversation. Hop on twitter and keep the hashtag #KidsHealthMatters alive.
Hey Everyone, thank you for all the love and support of Chunky and Friends. We truly appreciate you!
Over the last 6 months, the Vivens Media Group has been very busy. We have been conducting live interactive readings and writing workshops at various schools in Maryland and DC. It’s been AWESOME! In addition, we have been working on our next book, which takes Chunky and friends on crazy adventures which are completely different from anything we’ve done with the characters thus far. I know that kids and adults will love it, so stay tuned. Finally, we’ve been preparing the release of our activity book which we are proud to present to you today:
The Defeat The O-Beast Coloring & Activity Book is full of adventures where kids help Chunky and friends solve puzzles to defeat the villainous O-Beast. The puzzles are all about physical play and healthy eating choices. Pick it up for the crossword puzzles, word finds, connect the dots, coloring pages and more…
Also, the book has a Food and Active play journal where kids can keep tabs on their day to day habits.
An awesome resource for educators and physicians for only $5.99.
I do hope you enjoy the book and thank you again for all the support!
On Thursday, October 17, 2013 I had the opportunity to read Chunky and The O-Beast to the kids at St. Martin’s of Tours in Gaithersburg, MD. Although I’ve done smaller readings this was by far the largest group and the kids were amazing! They ranged from PreK-8th grade. The reading with the 6-8th grade class concluded with a Q&A session about the writing and artistic process. Thankfully, the book illustrator Jose Dominguez was available to answer questions about drawing the artwork.
The kids were completely engaged in the content, the message and the art. We received praised from Principal Andrew Piotrowski for an enthusiastic reading that opened the conversation about healthy eating & building self-confidence. Also, Mr. Piotrowski took the opportunity speak after the reading to reinforce the main themes of the book in the context of the schools principles.
Words cannot do justice for the amount of fun we had so please, check out the images from the St. Martin of Tours website by clicking this link (my favorite is the look of shock on the kids faces): https://smsmd.org/visit-from-author-joe-vivens/
We have other school readings scheduled and will share images and links as they become available. If you’re interested in having me and the illustrator come out for a reading and Q&A, contact us.
Finally, I want to thank the students, faculty and staff of St. Martin’s for being gracious hosts and a spectacular audience.
I was fortunate enough to meet Kat Calvin of Blerdology.co at a conference last September and she offered me the opportunity to do a guest post on her blog. This post was focused less on health and more on my love of comic books and using the medium to reach children. With Chunky and Friends: Chunky and the O-Beast I knew there was an opportunity to help by giving bad health a face.
The post is titled, Chunky and Friends: A Healthy Hero for Kids . As an adult Chunky reflects on his childhood and what it took to overcome the bad guy in his life: obesity. I rarely pat myself on the back but, it is a good read. Check it out by clicking this link: http://blerdology.co/blerd-kids-healthy-kids/. – JV
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I’m proud to present, Chunkamania.
This idea was formed from the mind of the artist Jose and further expanded into a comic strip by me (of course Lewis did the lettering).
A while back Jose sent me some artwork that looked like a title card for an epic fight and the caption read, CHUNKY VS. THE O-BEAST. It’s currently on our Facebook page and I thought it was awesome and we had to do something with it.
I’ve stated before that The Short Chunks series is a day in the life of Chunky and his battle to overcome obesity. Jose and I spoke about this fictional wrestling character called, El Muchos Fistos. So much so we made a joke about Chunky taking the idea of using your fist to measure portion sizes to a whole new level (click hear to see El Muchos Fistos T-shirt).
I know this strip would be the reaction of any child who is a wrestling fan who finds out that he’s going to be meeting their hero for the first time. On top of that, in Chunky’s case, his idol will be giving him health tips to defeat obesity!
I have an image in my head for what El Muchos Fistos would look like and I’m sure Jose does too. Based on the response to this strip we’d have to consider having Chunky come face to face with his hero and the lessons that he learns during the training session. In the meanwhile, enjoy the Short Chunk and make sure you share it with your friends and family and on all your favorite social networking sites.
Now, watch as I co-opt a famous phrase from a mysterious man and make it my own…
Stay healthy my friends…
1. Why did you call the book series, Chunky and Friends?
I wanted to create a character that would be a catalyst; Someone kids could look up to and feel inspired. My thought was that kids could be motivated by Chunky’s passion and resilience. As far as the name Chunky, I wanted something that would catch people’s attention and peak interest. Story wise we explain the origin of his name. While the main goal of our book series is to focus on healthy living, in the series we also highlight misconceptions about being overweight. Many children who we may perceive as being healthy by their physical appearance, grow up to be unhealthy because of the eating habits they developed as children. So by calling the book Chunky and Friends, we grab all audiences and welcome them into a world where looking good does not always mean you are living a healthy life. Kind of like the real world.
2. Is this specifically for kids in danger of becoming obese?
No, Chunky and Friends is for all kids. No matter where they’re from or how they may appear, whether they live in a food oasis or a food desert, we all face the possibility of being unhealthy. Chunky and Friends is a means to allow kids to start the conversation with their parents about eating healthier and being physically active.
3. Why did you create Chunky and Friends?
I use to be a big fan of Popeye the Sailor and can remember the influence the cartoon had on me as a kid and my love of spinach. Seeing the power that spinach gave Popeye prompted me to eat spinach and so many other vegetables and fruits. I was also inspired by my pediatrician wife. She shared with me her experiences with parents of overweight children, who found it difficult to discuss the necessary changes for the entire family to live a healthier life. Collectively, these experiences, motivated me to create a book series that could assist in jump starting the conversation about eating healthy, the importance of self-confidence and active play. From there, Chunky and Friends was born.
4. Why is it a comic book?
To be able to tell the story and have it relate to children, I knew I needed more than a typical children’s book. With a comic book, children as old as 10 and as young as 4 can easily be reached.
5. Why don’t you touch on other subjects?
Thankfully, Chunky and the O-Beast is only the first of many books. We wanted Chunky’s introduction to the audience to be about one topic. Which is about him learning he needs to make dramatic changes to his life. Being able to tell that story while addressing every other concern in a 10 year olds life would be very difficult in one book. With the first book I wanted to convey a clear message but subsequent books will touch on other social issues. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Chunky and the O-Beast is our first brick.
6. Does your book focus on weight?
NoOoOooooOOOOO, it focuses on overall health. With a focus on health, I want to change the culture and conversation regarding health to be less about appearance and more about wellness. I have met many people who constantly wish they could lose weight. They make comments like ”If only I could lose 10 lbs” or “This diet promises me to lose 2 lbs per week.” I believe that if you focus on health, practicing portion control, minding what you put into your body and how much energy you put out you will feel better and reach a healthier weight in the process. But as far as Chunky and Friends goes, we do not want to focus on weight as kids may become obsessed with being too big and introduce a whole slew of other issues in the name of looking thin.
7. Did you try sending a book to Michelle Obama?
Yes, click here.
8. What is your background? What makes you think you should be the one to do this?
I’ve been told that this book series is very creative. My creativity stems from writing short stories, poetry and music and I draw inspiration from being silly. I have had a strong passion for starting my own business and it felt right to start a company with a project that could help millions. Although I am not a nutritionist, dietitian or physician, if my book can inspire a child to ask a question about their overall health or diet, so that they can ensure a long and healthy life, then I have done my job.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast is a good start, a great breakfast is a great start. A Tale of Two Chunks (pt. 1) is the beginning of Chunky’s day. What happens when he doesn’t eat a healthy breakfast? What happens when he does? This idea was born when we here at Team Chunkatron discussed how we could further demonstrate important moments in Chunky’s life. That’s when we decided to show how a simple decision like, “what’s for breakfast,” can change a kids day. After a good nights rest, Chunky takes a morning stretch and begins his day. What happens next?
See where the two paths take our hero in Part One of A TALE OF TWO CHUNKS!
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My family moved back home to Maryland from Tennessee and it’s been exhausting. Moving from state to state can be a trying time, especially with a one year old in tow. I can say though that the USPS made that transition just a little bit easier.
Plus, it’s awesome to open the mailbox at your new home and see a letter from the White House.
Since I began presenting Chunky and Friends to the public I often get the same advice, “You should contact Michelle Obama.” While it is a great suggestion from people who can understand the potential impact of Chunky and Friends, I’m humbled by the thought that the First Lady would have any time to even glance over our book series.
By now, everyone is familiar with the amazing work the First Lady does with the “Let’s Move” campaign and she’s a very busy woman so, it’s not unreasonable to believe this to be a ridiculous suggestion, right? Well, I mailed a personal letter and signed book copy to her at the White House and surprisingly after 6 weeks I received a response! See below:
It’s a very exciting time for us and we’re grateful that the First Lady Michelle Obama and her staff took time to check out the book. On behalf of the Chunky and Friends team we are very grateful for your time and the supportive letter. My Mother-in-Law said it best, “What a wonderful housewarming gift.” I agree wholeheartedly.
Hey all! I was given the opportunity to post on the Food Day Blog about the inspiration behind Chunky and Friends. It’s rare that I get an opportunity to speak about what lead me to create this character. You can check it out here:
Food Day is an awesome organization that has an AMAZING push for people to “Eat Real!”
I think the statement “Eat Real” is powerful because so much of what’s consumed by kids is often over processed foods that are created in labs to cater to the taste buds, not health. Therefore, to me the phrase “Eat Real” denotes consuming real foods, like fresh veggies and fruits which cater to the taste buds while promoting health.
Please take the time to visit FoodDay.org to learn more about annual Food Day (Oct. 24, 2013) and how you can support this awesome organization.